LILLINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) – A homicide investigation has been launched after the remains of a man missing since February were located in Harnett County, the sheriff’s office said.

On Feb. 8, the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office received a missing person report concerning 20-year-old Esdras Hernandez-Cruz.

Hernandez-Cruz’s mother said she last saw him on Feb. 4 at 11 p.m. at his home near Lillington.

“Esdras Hernandez-Cruz was not reported to have been suffering from any mental or physical ailments that would suggest he might be in any danger,” said in a release.

On Feb. 14, Hernandez-Cruz’s mother filed a missing person report with Sanford police saying she last saw her son on Feb. 4 at Harbour’s Car Wash located at 422 E. Main St. in Sanford.

On March 3, deputies received a tip saying kids were talking about finding a body near a body of water near Mimms Road and Rattle Lane in Harnett County. Investigators searched the area but did not find any human remains.

Ten days later, human remains were located as part of a follow-up investigation. The body was sent to the medical exaiminer’s officer for identification.

On April 5, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said the remains were that of Hernanez-Cruz and that he had been shot multiple times.

The Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and Sanford police are working together on the homicide investigation.

If anyone has information pertaining to this investigation, contact the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office through one of the following methods:

  • P3 Tips App (which can be downloaded at ·
  • (910) 893-0300 (Harnett Tip Line)
  • (910) 893-0140 Criminal Investigations
  • (919) 775-8268 Sanford Police Department
  • (919) 775-8346 Sanford Crimeline